Want to dress vintage like the good dancers you see out? Here are some resources to help you get that vintage Swing dancer look. Guys, stay away from loud Zoot Suits. That might work in some areas of the country but in So. Cal. that is a dead giveaway for a wannabe swing dancer, to be avoided at all costs.
The cool Swing dancers wear authentic vintage clothing (or new clothing designed to copy authentic vintage designs) from the 20s, 30s, and 40s. The 50s look can work well for rockabilly and Western Swing events. Here are some links to help you get that vintage look that you’ve been looking for. Tell them you found them on SwingDance.LA!
An alarming number of vintage clothing stores have folded in recent years due to increasing rents and gentrification. Some have moved to online-only sales. Let’s support the brick-and-mortar vintage stores that are still around! If you find a new vintage store not listed here, or find one that has closed, please let me know in the comments.
For shoes, check out my beginner’s guide to shoes for Swing dancing!
Some of these have true vintage clothing, while others are modern reproductions inspired by vintage styles.
The Vendors at Camp Hollywood
For convenience and density of great vintage clothing vendors per square foot, you really can’t beat Camp Hollywood (an annual Swing dance weekend that happens in September). They have great vintage and vintage reproductions there. Of course, it’s only once a year, so keep reading for places to shop the rest of the year.
Otherwise, Check out Burbank Magnolia Avenue and Surrounding Areas
Hands down, your search for vintage clothing in Los Angeles should begin on Magnolia Avenue in Burbank between North Fairview Street and North Hollywood Way. This area has the greatest concentration of excellent vintage clothing stores I’ve seen anywhere. It’s a goldmine for vintage clothing for Swing dancing, some of which is priced absurdly low. The last time we went, my wife got six vintage dresses! I picked up five shirts, two pairs of pants, and two ties!
If you go to only one vintage store on Magnolia in Burbank, it should be Playclothes. Not only does Playclothes have a huge selection of men’s and women’s vintage clothing from almost all eras, but each piece of clothing is tagged with the decade it is from, which really helps if you’re not exactly sure what 1940s clothing looks like, for example.
Here are some vintage stores that I recommend going from East to West on the south side of Magnolia, then looping back:
- Playclothes Vintage (SwingDance.LA Pick!) – Has one of the best selections of vintage clothing from all eras for men and women! Clothing is labeled with decade for those unfamiliar with vintage fashion. On top of that, the prices are very reasonable. I picked up a vintage shirt and tie here. Johnny Boyd shops here for vintage ties; they have a whole cabinet full of them (ask for assistance to find it).
- Slone Vintage – Cute little store specializing in Women’s vintage clothing.
- Goodwill – Hey, sometimes you can strike vintage gold at a Goodwill. There’s one right on Magnolia, so why not stop in? The price is always right.
- The Holding Company – Men’s and women’s vintage clothing, both used and new. My wife picked up a great 1950’s vintage dress here.
- Junk for Joy Halloween-Vintage – Lots of vintage clothing along with some great Halloween ideas here.
- Audrey K Boutique – Women’s vintage clothing and shoes.
- Yes Baby! Vintage – Quirky and fun store with vintage clothing and more. I got a vintage Hawaiian shirt there.
- Chance Vintage – Vintage clothing for men and women. I got another vintage Hawaiian shirt there.
That takes you to the West end of the vintage zone at North Hollywood Way. At the corner, you’ll find Porto’s Bakery and Cafe, a great place to re-energize after an afternoon of vintage shopping. But be warned, sometimes the line goes out the door and around the block!
On to the north side of Magnolia…
- Best of Times – This is an antique shop but they do have some vintage women’s clothing and accessories, especially good if you’re looking for stuff for a 1930s flapper outfit.
- It’s a Wrap Production (SwingDance.LA Pick!) – Only in Los Angeles would a store like this exist. It’s a second-hand shop for TV and movie clothing. On the walls you’ll see some iconic clothes worn by the likes of John Wayne and Michelle Pfeiffer. For Swing dancing, check out the vintage rack. I found a pair of vintage pants and a shirt here. What makes it fun is that each item has a tag that says what movie or TV show it was from (or sometimes just the studio). We went during Fourth of July weekend when everything was a whopping 75% off!
If you’d rather buy new, here are some excellent stores in Burbank that sell new vintage reproductions.
- Unique Vintage – Formerly on Magnolia, Unique Vintage moved to 212 N. San Fernando Blvd, in the heart of downtown Burbank. They make modern reproductions of women’s clothing inspired by vintage looks.
- Pinup Girl Boutique – Further East on Magnolia, not really walking distance but a very short drive. They feature modern versions of vintage women’s clothing.
- Timeless Vixen – This store features vintage designer clothing, meaning that it can be expensive, often thousands of dollars. If you have the dough and are looking for a formal vintage gown, this could be the place though. One good thing is that the clothing is categorized by decade, which is a huge plus if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.
- Pickwick Vintage Show – This is a pop-up vintage expo that happens at the Row in Downtown L.A. They feature mostly women’s clothing with a small amount of men’s clothing. You will need to dig through clothing from all eras, as none of it is categorized. Prices are expensive by vintage standards; you won’t find steals like you will on Magnolia in Burbank, but you may be able to negotiate. There is also an admission fee, with a more expensive admission for early entry. Sign up on their email list to be informed of their next show, as it only happens occasionally.
- Space City Vintage – Vintage and repro women and menswear in Little Tokyo downtown. Definitely worth checking out, especially for Western vintage wear.
- Leader of the Pack Vintage – One of several great vintage stores in Highland Park.
- The Plus Bus Consignment – This is a unique concept: a consignment store for plus-sized folks! In Highland Park.
- Ramon’s Rags to Riches Vintage Clothing & Gallery – Another great vintage store in Highland Park. This is a smaller store, emphasizing quality over quantity. They have a selection of Pendleton shirts.
- Iguana Vintage Clothing has locations in Hollywood, North Hollywood, and Sherman Oaks.
- Starday Vintage – in Hollywood is great for women’s and men’s wear. On the same street that Paper Moon used to be on.
Check out Long Beach’s famous “Retro Row” on 4th Street between Cherry and Juniper. You’ll find lots of cool stores carrying both vintage and new clothing.
- Meow Vintage – Vintage clothing store on Long Beach’s 4th Street “Retro Row”
- Sneaky Tiki boutique on Long Beach’s 4th Street “Retro Row” has some good menswear, vintage and repro.
Melrose / Mid-City
- American Vintage – They actually don’t have a working website, but they do have stores on Melrose and Hillhurst.
- Golyester Vintage – just down the street from The Way We Wore.
- Re-mix Classic Vintage Footwear (SwingDance.LA Pick!) – Great selection of new vintage-style shoes, located on Beverly Blvd not far from the Beverly Center. This place has the most comfortable, most stylish women’s Swing dancing shoes around. You’ll find lots of instructors and hard-core Swing dancing wearing their designs.If you need shoes for Swing dancing and don’t have time to dig through tons of vintage stores, this is the place to go. They also have some good men’s shoes as well. Just make sure the one you pick has leather soles, as some of their designs have rubber soles which are not suitable for Swing dancing.
- SquaresVille Vintage on Vermont has men’s and women’s vintage clothing.
- The Way We Wore – on La Brea Ave. in LA is great but pricey.
The Orange Circle, located at the intersection of Chapman and Glassel, is a cool retro area with some great vintage clothing stores.
- Elsewhere Vintage is the sister store to Joyride in the Orange circle. “Great prices and service”, reader Linda reports.
- Joyride Vintage for Men – Highly recommended vintage clothing store in Old Town Orange!
- DAPPER DAY Expo at the Disneyland Hotel (SwingDance.LA Pick!) – Bills itself as the “biggest style celebration in California”. It happens semi-annually (get on their email list). Although it has shrunk considerably since COVID, it still has 30,000 square feet of vintage clothing, shoes, and accessories. You can definitely walk in looking normal and leave pretty dapper (especially with women’s clothing)! Just watch out for the cost of parking because they don’t validate. We were there for four hours and parking was $52! Best to have lunch or dinner at Downtown Disney and get validated.
Dapper Day Expo at the Disneyland Hotel
- A Walk Through Time Vintage (Thousand Oaks) – has vintage clothing from all eras. Can order online as well.
Whittier / Pomona
- Crash the Party Vintage in Whittier specializes in clothing from the 1940’s and 50’s. They also have an Etsy store.
- Reese’s Vintage Pieces – This is now a physical store in Pomona! Benny Reese features his amazing collection of vintage menswear, with over 400 men’s suits in stock!
Note, the vast majority of these brick-and-mortar stores also have online stores or an Etsy shop!
Online-Only Vintage Clothing Stores
- 1940sStyleForYou – womenswear based in UK
- Bandini St. Etsy – Swing-themed headbands, flowers, and accessories, hand-made in Los Angeles! SwingDance.LA Pick!
- BlueFennel – womenswear based in US
- Cats Like Us – Online vintage clothing based in New York.
- dancestore.com – Online Swing dance shoe store for men and women. This is the place to go for Swing dancing shoes. Return policy is good if anything doesn’t fit. A friend recommended this store to me. SwingDance.LA Pick!
- dethrosevintage– womenswear based in Chicago, Illinois
- FabGabs – great womenswear based in Seattle, Washington
- FashionaireVintage – womenswear based in New York
- Freddies of Pinewood – This UK online store has great vintage-styled clothing for men and women!
- GarbOhVintage– based in Portland, Oregon
- House of Foxy – This is a UK-based online store with a delightful selection of 1930’s through 1950’s styled women’s dresses. Very authentic-looking. They do deliver worldwide.
- thelilyvintage– womenswear based in Sweden
- Lindy Bop – Modern recreations of vintage styles. Based in the UK, but they ship to the U.S.
- Loco Lindo – Vintage inspired clothing for women. Looks like they have some nice dresses for swing dancing!
- LuckyDryGoods – based in Seattle, Washington
- OverAttiredVintage-great womens and menswear based in Oakland, California
- Paper Moon Vintage – Formerly a brick-and-mortar store in Hollywood, this store is now on Etsy. SwingDance.LA Pick!
- Pinup Girl Clothing – Started out with more emphasis on “pinup” but now has lots of vintage styles for women.
- PiperCubVintage– womenswear based in Idaho
- Rare Revival Vintage – Great authentic women’s vintage clothing perfect for wearing out to your next Swing dance event. Run by my friend and frequent Swing dancer, Christina Coffey.
- Rag Mopp Vintage – Formerly a brick-and-mortar store in Silverlake, this store has gone online.
- RubyMaeRose – Vintage womenswear Etsy store based in Canada
- SmallEarthVintage– Vintage Etsy store based in Michigan
- Smokin’ Gun Vintage – My friend and frequent Swing dancer Christina runs this Etsy store featuring “mid-century modern, Art-Deco, rock ‘n roll, and mod” fashions! Check it out if you want something cool to wear when you go Swing dancing! SwingDance.LA Pick!
- Stacy Adams – Has retro-styled men’s dress shoes that can be used for Swing dancing.
- TheStarletsStylist – Womenswear based in Canada
- Straight8Vintage – One of the few vintage stores devoted to men’s clothing. You can also catch them at Dapper Day at the Disneyland Hotel.
- Swanky’s Vintage – Online-only vintage and vintage reproductions based in Los Angeles. I discovered them at Camp Hollywood because they were one of the few vendors making vintage reproductions of men’s pants. They have great jackets and women’s clothes too! My wife got a cute jumper. SwingDance.LA Pick!
- SwingGear.co.uk – Has Swing dancing shoes for men and women. Based in the UK.
- Tarantula Clothing Company – Based in San Pedro, this online clothing company specializes in looks from the 40’s and 50’s.
- Tatyana Boutique – Has NEW designs in a vintage style!
- The Seamstress of Bloomsbury (UK) – They make 40s style clothes that are good quality if you can’t find the real thing. A friend of mine has purchased blouses from them and she has been happy with them. SwingDance.LA Pick!
- Vintage Blue Moon – Etsy store specializing in vintage clothing and accessories for men and women. They have a large booth at Camp Hollywood. SwingDance.LA Pick!
- Vintage Martini – Online only, but has a good selection. Based in Texas.
- VintageVictoryGirl– Womenswear based in Canada
- Wear it Again Sam – Has a good selection of items (and a great name). Based in San Diego, but online Etsy store only.
- WillowHilsonVintage – womenswear based in the UK
A lot of the Etsy shops also sell on their Instagram/Instagram stories where you’ll probably see the pieces before they land on Etsy.
Many thanks to reader Vanessa for the head’s up on many of these stores!
- Swungover – Has a great guide to men’s vintage haircuts.
- Women’s Swing Dance Shoe Hunt – The Lindy Loft started a Facebook group solely (no pun intended) dedicated to women’s Swing dance shoes.
- Vintage portrait photography – Get black and white headshots exactly how they looked in the 1930’s!
- What Kate Did is an online vintage lingerie store based in the UK.
- Dave Welch’s Flickr Page – Oh my goodness, it’s hard to find a more complete and better collection of LA Swing dance photos than here.
- Steve Hwan’s Photography Blog – Tips on photographing swing dancers!
Please leave a comment below if you know of another resource that I’ve missed! I’ll be happy to add it to this list! Thanks! – Brian